In therapy the other week, I was with my younger son, who doesn’t love therapy per se, but he loves an audience and therefore loves a therapist. He said his life is so hard and it’s so hard to live on a farm and go to the city and the only good day of the week is Saturday. When he is in cello classes all day long.

It’s hard to say if it’s the non-stop cello or all the kids. He loves both so much.

So last weekend we were at a cello festival. Which translates to a weekend full of large groups of kids in cello lessons – his dream come true.

He spends the weekend enthralled with the meeting new teachers and chatting up kids between classes.

He says to two boys, “You look like brothers.”

One boy says, “That’s racist,” and walks away.

My son tells me this in a dark hallway so no one can hear. He says, “Is that racist? Was I mean?”

He wants to know everything. He wants to know how you can be racist if you didn’t mean to be. He wants to know why he can’t tell the difference between Asian kids but the Asian kids see the difference between white kids. He wants to know how many kids of a race you need to live near so that you are not racist.

His questions get better and better over the course of the hour-long break between classes.

He wants to know if he should apologize. I say “Yes, probably. You can tell him you didn’t know. You can tell him you live on a farm and you never see Asian kids except in group class.”

Honestly, I’m not sure what he should say. This I know for sure, though: No amount of teaching about race on Martin Luther King Day taught my son about real racism. 

What made him understand is another kid saying it. Kids learn best from doing rather than being told. My kid was racist, but being called out as a racist by another kid is a a great way to learn. It’s reason number 400,000,001 that kids don’t need teachers in order to learn.

98 replies
  1. Tara
    Tara says:

    This is great. I may beg to say, though, it’s the opportunity you afford him that allows the learning to take place! As parents, regardless of the schooling decisions we make, we must consciously expose our children to new situations.

    I would have loved to overhear all of his inquiring questions. I sometimes appreciate the questioning as it challenges my own views/opinions on a certain topic.

  2. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    First of all, noticed the rename – thumbs up from me.

    Funny story. Reminds me of how recently we took our kids to visit their grandparents in Kenya. My 4-yr old was coming up with lots of cringe worthy lines, including more print-friendly gems like ‘In my country we speak English, do you speak English?’ (even though he’d just been having a long conversation in English with a local waiter). It was hard to know when to just leave him blurting things out and when to step in. In this case because he was so young I felt it was mostly ok to let him keep going – people mostly thought he was entertaining (The waiter came back with ‘I speak English, Swahili and French’ and then ensued another round of questions and answers).

    I’d refine the idea for this case by adding most kids don’t need teachers, but a guide nearby for a quick feedback loop goes a long way to accelerate the learning.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks, Catherine. I take about half the pictures on this site and I hire people to take the rest. So Melissa took the photo. And I think the talents I have are probably knowing my limitations and finding great people to hire :)

      Penelope

  3. Sarah m
    Sarah m says:

    The book “Nurture Shock” has a great chapter on race. Short story: the parents who never talk about race with their kids (and just leave it up to TV shows or actions) have higher racist attitudes than the families who talk about it and make it simple and clear that racism is wrong. It dramatically decreases the attitudes, if I remember correctly, something like 30%. Anyway, the essay is worth the read.
    Sarah M

  4. Heather Sanders
    Heather Sanders says:

    What a shocker for Zehavi. I can only imagine the humber of questions he asked. Personally, I think the other child was a bit harsh in his retort. Was an apology made? If so, was it accepted? I’ve noticed that kids easily “pop” off (like the boy Zehavi spoke with) and the next minute, they act chummy.

  5. Commenter
    Commenter says:

    Poor farmer boy in the big city, sticking his big muck boot in his mouth.

    It’s wonderful that he cares so much about the feelings of the other children. Empathy will get him past difficulties like this.

    Knowing more about Asians might be a good idea for anybody considering a career in classical music in America. By the time your son gets to conservatory, he might be in the minority.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/02/can_asians_save_classical_music_.html

    Perhaps it would be helpful to your son to learn more about particular Asian groups, in particular Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. It might be an interesting project for a young fellow to learn a little culture and language, and to distinguish names and facial features. Avoiding embarrassment and making friends are great motivations.

  6. Lyndap
    Lyndap says:

    I would say that Zehavi wasn’t racist…he was more along the lines of ignorant. He wasn’t intentionally trying to be hurtful…he was making an observation based on the knowledge that he has. My son did something similar in CCD class where a lot of kids were Hispanic…it was cringe-worthy but wasn’t racist…just an ignorant observation with a complicated explanation.

    • Jayson
      Jayson says:

      Definitely not racist. He doesn’t think he’s superior in any way to the other kids and didn’t display any prejudice. His statement is the same as pointing out to someone that they are wearing similar shirts. No apology necessary. At worst, it would only serve to teach other children to manipulate by using political correctness as a tool. At best, the child is apologizing for absolutely no reason (likely to another child who has no idea what the loaded term means).

  7. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I agree with Commenter above – “It’s wonderful that he cares so much about the feelings of the other children. Empathy will get him past difficulties like this.”

    However, I don’t believe he was being racist if the definition of being of a racist is – “A person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others.” I’m glad he continued to ask questions though. And I’m glad he isn’t afraid to make a mistake by asking a question which I believe to be innocent (i.e. – to satisfy his curiosity and nothing more). The tragedy would be to be afraid of asking the question in the first place for fear of making a mistake and failing. It’s the process of getting to know yourself and the people in your environment to be a better you.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      Mark, I absolutely agree with “The tragedy would be to be afraid of asking the question in the first place for fear of making a mistake and failing. ” in theory. However, I think the takeaway from this situation is absolutely don’t make assumptions like this and don’t bring it up. It has always bothered me that it is “racist” to inquire about someone’s heritage. How else are you supposed to learn. (I don’t think an internet tutorial would be as effective as talking to, ya’ know, real people.)

      I am also leery of asking where someone is from. It could offend someone if they assume I mean “what country are you from?” rather than where in this country. I would be careful to phrase it as “Are you from this area?” or “What part of the country are you from?” I think race is a total minefield in the US given our heritage.

      I agree with with Liz. If we are talking Korean vs Chinese, I can see how that could be offensive (not intentionally so, though.) But honestly, there can be so many obvious variations in Caucasians, while the differences are much more subtle with more homogeneous races.

      I’d love to set up a test to see if there is variation in the heritage of people who could tell that my sister and I are related. I am 5’9″ with straight red hair, fair skin, freckles, and blue eyes. My sister is 5’4″ with curly brown hair, slightly olive skin, and brown eyes. However, we have somewhat similar facial features. And, yes, we do have the same parents.

      I just googled whether to write Yuna Kim or Kim Yuna. Her official site uses Yuna Kim, so… One of the segments from one of the few videos I could view without cable ;) included an older male journalist referring to her as “Oriental.” I was pretty darn surprised by that.

      I think this such a hard topic to navigate. I’m not sure how Z should have responded, but I wouldn’t have gone with “I live on a farm.” To me, that sounds like an excuse and stereotypes rural people–no matter how accurate it is. I think in these situations, it is best to just apologize and ask the boys how he should have handled it. Well, other than not having said anything in the first place.

      However, being a namby pamby INFP who is often terrified into silence for fear of offending someone, I am probably not the best person offer up any advice. FTR, I am really worried that some of what I am posting has gone too far.

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        MBL, the one boy (who) says, “That’s racist,” and (then) walks away, I believe was offended for a reason that’s known to him. However, saying that Zehavi made a racist statement is incorrect with my definition above. I think saying something is racist is done much too frequently today. There are other words to describe people or a situation but it takes more effort with a larger vocabulary and understanding. I don’t think this boy who walked away had any more desire to interact with Zehavi so he said “that’s racist” and walked away. Actually I don’t think it was fair to Zehavi but what it amounts to is no personal connection was made. No harm was done. It appears that Zehavi said something that made the other boy uncomfortable. While growing up and until now, I can’t remember someone saying to me – “that’s racist”. However, the times have changed dramatically. I believe our culture today in this country is suffering and burdened with too much political correctness.

        • MBL
          MBL says:

          Mark, to be sure–I don’t think Z was racist at all. And I do that the boy’s walking away seems really rude assuming he could tell from Z’s tone that he was just making conversation. I meant that many people have a strong cultural identity and may more easily be offended if someone said they looked like someone with a completely different heritage than if it were with someone with the same background.

          As I said, regretfully, I am so adverse to offending someone, that I just avoid those types of questions entirely. However, I do think it turned into great learning opportunity!

  8. Marta
    Marta says:

    Nice story but a lazy argument.

    Kids learn best about racism, love, friendship, hardship, happiness, boredom, etc by living – the most diverse and challenging the setting the better.

    What’s the surprise?

    On the other hand, if you DO think kids learn best without teachers, why the cello, violin, skateboarding, swimming, ceramics teachers you gave/give your kids?

    You are very contradictory but fascinating, because you’re very honest about it all.

    Honesty is not easy.

    Thank you for that.

    Marta in Lisbon, Portugal

    • Jessica
      Jessica says:

      She means traditional school teachers.

      The specialty teachers are sought out to help advance specific interests of the kids.

      I would just switch up the language and call them ‘guides’. Swimming guide, cello guide, ceramics guide…It’s still on the kids to practice and learn the endeavors.

      • Emily
        Emily says:

        As a traditional school teacher, I wonder how you think the “guides” are different? I do my best to provide my students stimulating and interesting educational experiences, but it’s still up to them to learn and practice the ideas (we call that homework — which is somehow bad while practicing music is good in the usual framework on this blog).

    • Kim
      Kim says:

      I really don’t understand the argument about sending kids to school because it’s diverse and challenging. So is prison but I don’t see anyone signing their kids up for that.

      Why don’t we create a stable, healthy environment where they are completely free to LEARN the skills that you mentioned so that when they’re ready to be thrown into the lion’s den of life, they can be properly equipped?

  9. grrlpup
    grrlpup says:

    Racism is still racism and still hurts even if it isn’t intentionally malicious, so I’m disappointed to see all the “he wasn’t being racist, he shouldn’t have to apologize, the other kid was harsh” comments. I feel like people are worried about the white kid’s feelings and rush to defend him while ignoring the fact that the other kid was hit with one more microaggression.

    I think the other kid’s saying “that’s racist” and walking away was a perfect reaction. It’s not his job to explain why or overlook it or argue about it. If Z feels bad, and gets himself educated and goes back and apologizes, which is what happened, then he’s shown himself to be someone worth knowing.

    • Dana
      Dana says:

      So we’ve decided the remark is racist without having seen the two boys? Maybe they actually do look alike, or interact in a manner that seems brotherly. Would the question still be racist then? Is it at all possible the kid that said, ‘That’s racist.’ was perhaps being overly sensitive?

      You feel that people are worried about ‘the white kids’ feelings, but isn’t that a little racist by, – what is apparently -, your own definition? Perhaps people are worried about Penelope’s son’s feelings maybe?

      It’s a tricky situation for sure being that no one was there to gauge what happened. What should happen now? Nothing. Kid’s learn from being out in the world and making mistakes, which seems to be what happened here on both sides, and is also, I think, the point of this post.

    • Lyndap
      Lyndap says:

      I have a friend who has a completely different racial background from me but we has similar coloring , similar build and have been mistaken for sisters or even twins… By your definition I should have taken offense to that and recognized such observations as racist for not recognizing my part Asian heritage instead of realizing it was an interesting observation. Your definition of a racist must be broader than mine…and I am someone who is half Asian and has been mistakenly identified as someone from other non-Asian races many times over my 47 years. If I took offense to every occasion I was mistakenly identified as part of another race , I would have mightly large chip to carry around.

    • Kirsten H
      Kirsten H says:

      I think most of the comments here about racism are missing the broader point. There is zero-percent change that the conversation Z and PT had following this incident could have occurred — in such depth and length and with such freedom and yearning for discovery — inside a school, even a diverse one.

      Z was trying to make a connection with some other kids. It didn’t go well, so he searched for an answer as to why, presumably so that he can make a better connection the next time, either with those kids or with others. I wish everyone were so invested in reaching out and digging deeper.

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen says:

        “There is zero-percent change that the conversation Z and PT had following this incident could have occurred — in such depth and length and with such freedom and yearning for discovery — inside a school, even a diverse one.”

        Why do you say that? Not only might the same thing have happened in a school…albeit earlier in a kid’s life…but a parent could have a conversation about it with a kid AFTER the come home from school and talk about what they learned. When my kid came home and told me about what they learned about MLK, I took the opportunity to tell her more…”did you know that before MLK, in certain parts of the country you would not have even been able to go to school with Lakisha because she has brown skin? etc etc etc…” and the same with Columbus day. Thankfully, they focused on the navigational instruments not that he was some kind of here, but I set her straight on Columbus, too. It’s not the school’s WHOLE job to teach everything…it’s school, life…parents…peers..

        • Kirsten H.
          Kirsten H. says:

          At least part of the answer is time constraints and fear. This conversation lasted an hour, and had the ease and familiarity that can only come between people who trust each other completely. Z had the freedom to ask real questions, without fear of repercussion, and PT had the ability to think and respond thoughtfully and sometimes to say, “I’m not sure,” the way a teacher — particularly an elementary teacher — does not have the freedom to do. What are the other 21 kids in your daughter’s class doing while this conversation is going on for an hour? Obviously it can’t work.

          Could this example happen between a parent and a kid who goes to school? Of course. The point is, that’s the only place it can.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            The whole idea of something “only” happening anywhere seems like a bold statement. A good teacher could engage the whole class in a discussion…it’s not that hard to imagine.

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            I can’t reply directly to Gretchen’s comment.

            “A good teacher could engage the whole class in a discussion…it’s not that hard to imagine.”

            True. But first you have to imagine a teacher who has complete autonomy over what is taught and when. That there is no teaching to the test. That there is no fear, as Kirsten noted, of repercussions regarding what is said or how it is phrased. That there is time to allow the shyer kids time to get comfortable enough to join in and for the most curious to ask question after question. And that all kids are going to be equally engaged and none will get bored and fidgety.

            So, is it possible to imagine? Yes. Is it likely to be implemented many times per day? No.

            What I can’t imagine is where the time would come from if I had to answer questions from 20 or 30 children like the 1 I have. :D

        • MBL
          MBL says:

          I wouldn’t go with zero percent chance, but most certainly a greater likelihood. Immediacy is huge component of learning. There is a much greater chance that a child will talk to a parent about a situation if the parent is close by rather than them maybe mentioning it at the end of an exhausting day. Also, the parent is there to notice what is going on. I can usually tell from across a soccer field if things are going well or if there is some sort of conflict. If it seems appropriate, I wait and see how things go and intervene only if necessary. But I am there if it is. When my daughter comes back over for water or something I can casually ask what was going on. This would never happen on this level were she in school. When she was in school, even though I asked, there were some much larger things that she didn’t share when they happened.

          Even when she is in science/art/theater/writing classes without me, the frequent check ins are much more conducive to intel gathering. It is much less daunting to answer, “So, what did you do?” when you are talking about an hour two vs the seven hours since you last saw your child.

          Also, regarding immediacy, it was easy for Z to ask his mother how he should handle it. If he did go back to the kids right away, that would be far preferable to having to seek the kids out the next day and revisit the incident.

          Gretchen, please know that your daughter’s school is not typical. I realize that my daughter’s homeschooling experience is not the same as every other HSer, but I do see a great deal more interaction with parents and one on one opportunities for discussion. This applies to everything, whether it is clarification of a question, meaning of a word, or explanation of a concept.

          Regarding addressing racial tension and inequality, we saw a powerful re-enactment of the Greensboro Woolworth sit in at the Smithsonian last Fall. They have a portion of the original lunch counter. We had so many museums to ourselves since it was a school day. Were she there on a school trip, the experience would be so different.

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          “And that all kids are going to be equally engaged and none will get bored and fidgety.”

          I feel like sometimes the replies are plainly obstuse. You list a laundry list of conditions. Yeah, there may not be all those conditions, but conversations can still happen. So, a kid gets bored and fidgety, they fidget, they zone out, people do this all the time as adults, maybe they come back, maybe they don’t. The kids who pay attention and engage will, but maybe not always. So rigid!

          • MBL
            MBL says:

            I think part of the problem is that many of us are talking about learning moments rather than teaching moments. You said that a classroom wide discussion is not that hard to imagine. For me, it is. Because I know that engaged kids, given the chance, can be relentless in asking questions. Z’s questions got more and more profound as TIME went on.

            I never saw that in my daughter’s class at our “very good school.” Just when the questions started to get deeper the teacher had to cut them off. And then dejected little hands dropped. She is still bitter about that. “But how can kids learn if they can’t ask questions?!?”

            That is why I played the scenario out to end. Unschoolers have the privilege (yes I know that it is a privilege) to go as deep as the child wants. Once they have tuned out you are just wasting everyone’s time. A lot of this is about the value of time and optimizing it. If an unschooled kid gets fidgety, but wants to continue the conversation then she can just start moving. In our house that could be bouncing on the bed or swinging on an in-door swing or trapeze. Kinesthetic learners actually NEED this. Again, this is about optimizing time.

            Back to diversity, do you honestly believe that your daughter’s school is typical? Also, I am honestly curious as to the make-up of the other 21 children in her class. Are there numerous cultural backgrounds? Or are they more homogenous and your daughter is the diversity?

            To me, this blog is about paradigm shifts to what is possible versus what we accept as “pretty good, considering.”

            And sorry to be a stickler since I TOTALLY get typos, but I’m not sure what you meant by obstuse. I don’t know if you said I was philosophically deep (abstruse) or stupid (obtuse.) Or, perhaps it was a portmanteau and you think I am both–which is actually kind of funny.)

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            I don’t think our school is typical. We live in the third wealthiest county in the U.S. and the school system is county wide so we get a lot of benefits. The class truly is diverse…we have vietnamese, chinese, mexican, salvadoran, african (like, from africa, not black), arab and more just in my kid’s 1st grade class…and it’s not like a diplomat school or anything, it’s just diverse around here.

    • Barb
      Barb says:

      Yes, it’s amazing how commenters are so invested in assuring us that her son wasn’t racist, and are so concerned about his feelings, yet don’t care at all about the other kid’s feelings. When an Asian kid is constantly told he looks like other Asian kids, (and believe me, he is. And assuredly, they often look nothing alike), he is going to be sensitive about it. Apparently *not* telling Asian kids they look like other Asian kids is more difficult than being the Asian kid that hears this all the time?

      Penelope may have Aspergers’, but in this case, she is able to be much more socially sensitive than most people. She can listen to how people feel, calibrate her behavior, and move on!

  10. Liz
    Liz says:

    The only way this seems to make sense is if the child who accused your son of being racist was not of the same nationality as the other child and took offense. If you point your finger at someone else how many are pointing back at you…

    • Barb
      Barb says:

      If the two Asian kids looked alike, it has nothing to do with their nationality–it has to do with their stature, body language, and facial features!

      Also, I’d assume their nationality is American, since they live in America. It’s possible they aren’t, but less likely.

      These assumptions get really tiring.

  11. Gretchen
    Gretchen says:

    This post actually illustrates the value of sending kids to diverse public schools…it’s not just what the teacher teaches, it’s what kids teach each other. Day in and day out. Not just on field trips.

    • Kim
      Kim says:

      Gretchen, I went to a “diverse public school” and let’s just say there was no acceptance and community. The reality of it is that kids from the same ethnic groups will stick together and not integrate. Why, because school is survival of the fittest and kids form cliques to survive. Especially kids who haven’t the confidence will cling to these cliques even more. From personal experience, if your child doesn’t fit one of those cliques, they will most likely be ostracized by these diverse groups and feel as if they don’t belong.

      The reason homeschooling creates an environment for diversity is because kids can meet others outside of their background from all different age groups and nations without the confines and social anxieties of school.

      Please read up on school statistics, there isn’t that much diversity in schools, anyways. There are only a few main demographics. Also, many of them are second or third generation immigrants who have pretty much assimilated to the status quo and have very little diversified qualities.

      Bottom line, a child would learn more about diversity on a month long missionary trip to Cambodia than they would from a third generation Latin American student who plays the same iPod games as he does.

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen says:

        At my kid’s particular school there is a LOT of diversity. She’s one of three caucasian girls in a class of 22. I met some parents who don’t speak English. Some who work retail. There’s diversity in our school, for sure. I know many people don’t value that as much, and I get that, too. Honestly, homeschoolers I don’t think are exposed to as much diversity as a kid going to public school. One has to have a certain level of moxie, intellect, not to mention MONEY to do it. There are many good cases to be made for homeschooling, teaching kids diversity and race issues I don’t think is one of the strongest cases to be made.

        • Isabelle
          Isabelle says:

          This is SO much more about your location than anything else, even public school vs. homeschool. I grew up going to public schools, and there were perhaps 15 (and that’s being generous) non-white kids in my elementary school of over 800 kids in rural-ish WI. I didn’t even meet anyone Jewish until I moved in middle school! But now I live in the Bay Area, and even if we homeschool and only get together with groups of kids here and there (which I’m sure wouldn’t be the case, I think we’d be out in the world all the time), my kid would experience WAY more diversity than I ever did in my public school. He already does just going to the park!

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        Sorry, my reply will be somewhat redundant to yours as I started it long before I was actually able to post.

        But I totally agree. If anything, the diversity in my school was more likely to foster racism than counter it.

        • Kim
          Kim says:

          I’m not sure what homeschoolers you know, Gretchen but I know many, for instance, that rather than spend their time in school, they spend time with the elderly, babysit younger kids, and even have fundraisers to raise money on their own to go visit orphans in Russia. There’s no denying that this is more than the experiences in public school. You mentioned meeting parents that work in retail. Going to a retail store would give you a more detailed experience.

          Like I’ve said, I’ve been to a school with a diverse population probably more diverse than your child’s and it wasn’t until I left that I had to remove a lot of my preconceived notions about certain racial groups because school is very little like the real world.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            “You mentioned meeting parents that work in retail. Going to a retail store would give you a more detailed experience.”

            Not really, there they are in their role of serving a customer.

          • Kim
            Kim says:

            Gretchen, I don’t understand your point of even bringing up meeting someone who works in retail. Most of the people you may know work in retail. I thought the point of getting the “diverse” experience of meeting someone who worked in retail was to find out about their occupation and learn what they do, not simply to say you met someone who earned $8 an hour. I’m confused.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      Well, P’s kids did go to school, so I’m not sure how more school would have helped that. They get a LOT more exposure to various races by going to Chicago than by going to their local school. HSed kids have so very many more opportunities to interact with various people because they can be out and about in the real world, not in some artificial construct with mainly neighborhood kids that offers up Heritage Day once a year.

      From what I have seen in offices and schools, people tend to self-segregate. In some schools here, there are massive conflicts between African Americans and Somalis. Our neighborhood school principal got into a headline making argument with a school board member who called him a racist because his school’s non-Asian minorities were primarily Hispanic.

      I understand that YMMV, but while Z’s situation was awkward, there are far worse ways for this conversation to come up for an 8 year old than this one.

    • Commenter
      Commenter says:

      I think we all realize by now that you’re just trolling here, Gretchen. But it might be useful to others to respond to the theory you post, that PT’s kids would have more direct experience with children of other races if they went to public school.

      According to the 2010 census, Darlington Wisconsin had 2,451 residents. Let’s break that down racially:
      2,194 whites; 8 blacks; 12 American Indians; 5 Asians (2 Asian Indian, 1 Chinese, 2 Vietnamese); 297 Hispanics; the rest some other race or mixed.

      The local K-8 school has 540 students, of whom 88% are white, 9% are Hispanic (overwhelmingly children of Mexican dairy workers), 3% unknown, and NONE are black or Asian or American Indian.

      The conversation PT had with her son is not one that could possibly have happened regarding children in the local public school, because he would never meet one Asian, let alone two, in his local public school.

      It’s helpful for most of us to remember that our experiences are not universal, and not to project our circumstances on others.

      America is a diverse country, but it’s not uniformly diverse. In some cases, such as PT’s, homeschooling may _increase_ the diversity to which our children are exposed.

      If I look around a large social gathering of homeschooled children in my community (and, yes, there are such!) I will see a demographic balance that resembles that of the city I live in about as well as the demographics of our public schools do.

      • Gretchen
        Gretchen says:

        I don’t understand why offering a counter idea would be considered “trolling” …I’ve given lots of complimentary nods to homeschooling, I would even consider it myself under the right circumstances. My point is that PT comes on here making these broad stroke, very firm statements about what could NEVER happen and, as you illustrate with all your data on her little town in Wisconsin, she has a very rarefied life and not any kind of existence that matches up to most people’s. If I lived in a place like that, I might homeschool, too, but, I live in a diverse community with highly rated public schools. What bothers me so much is the tone of absolute authority on all matters. I wouldn’t even dispute that kids learn from life…but teachers are a part of life. Kids learn everywhere.

        • Commenter
          Commenter says:

          No matter what the actual topic of a blog post, a troll will try to bring it off topic and back to his or her idee fixe.

          A person who went onto a car blog to append a pro-bicyling argument on every thread would be trolling.

          A person who went onto an environmental issues blog to argue on every post against the reality of anthropogenic climate change on every post would be trolling.

          A person who enters comments on every single post on a homeschooling blog with an argument about how great her school is and why whatever the homeschooler is appreciating would happen in school but better is not “offering a counter-example.” She is trolling.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            I get your point about YOUR definition of trolling, but I will say I don’t comment on EVERY post. I don’t comment on things I know nothing about…music lessons, asperger stuff… and I still don’t think it’s trolling just to mention counter points, though I do see that it’s kind of a waste of time on this crowd.

      • Amy K.
        Amy K. says:

        Commenter,

        I think Gretchen knows that PT lives in a rural community that is not diverse.

        I think what Gretchen is getting at is that YMMV vis-a-vis schooling. Your Mileage May Vary! School works for some families, others not. That sentiment is missing from this blog–it’s homeschooling all the way–all school sucks and Gretchen is just a troll and/or her kid’s school is just some kind of exception.

        I’m researching homeschooling right now. I went to a HS gathering near me here in the sometimes holier-than-thou SF Bay Area and gladly I found the YMMV attitude to be in full effect. There were long-term homeschoolers and short-termers too. Several people HSing one but not the other(s). Some of the moms that have been most helpful to me in terms of finding resources are actually no longer HSing. They found a better school, their kids were ready to try something new, they needed to go back to work… again Mileage Varied.

        Oh, and lots of other HS blogs, including Heather Sanders’ wonderful one, lack the sanctimony of this one.

        Mileage varies. Zehavi says Monday-Friday sucks and he lives for Saturdays. Hmmm… who does that sounds like? A whole lot of kids in school. So great for me to hear his truth rather than endless comments about how awesome homeschooling is. I know it’s going to be tough for all of us. There are always tradeoffs.

        • Jessica
          Jessica says:

          “Zehavi says Monday-Friday sucks and he lives for Saturdays.”

          Also, like a lot of adults…so is life.

          Why is Zehavi in therapy?

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            He’s in therapy because I worry about my ability to be a good parent since I had such terrible parenting. Statistically someone removed from abusive parents will be a terrible parent themselves.

            So I go to a therapist who helps me with parenting issues. And I have the kids see her every now and then as a safety mechanism.

            Penelope

        • Commenter
          Commenter says:

          Amy, it seems to me like absolutism and the broad brush are PT’s method. I’m sure she knows that she’s not respecting all the nuances, but I’m not sure that’s her goal here, or that doing so would make her arguments any more effective.

          I disagree with what she says quite frequently; what I don’t do is disagree every single time with “oh, but that would be better if they were in school,” because that wouldn’t add anything to the discussion. There are many cases, such as this, in which such a statement is easily demonstrable to be false.

          I don’t understand why it should be the least bit disturbing or controversial that a blog about homeschooling should focus on how good homeschooling is, or how much better it is for the blogger’s kids.

          I am also easily bored by sanctimonious people who say that public school is the universal answer for all kids or homeschooling is the universal answer for all kids. I also find that, sanctimony aside, PT usually has interesting things to say in addition to the occasional overreach.

          My son homeschools because it’s best for him right now. It might not always be. As you meet more actual people who homeschool, you will find that sentiment to be common in us. However, you will also find the sentiment of being sick to death of people whose conversation compulsively returns to how good their kids’ schools are and how bad we are for homeschooling.

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          “I think what Gretchen is getting at is that YMMV vis-a-vis schooling. Your Mileage May Vary! School works for some families, others not. That sentiment is missing from this blog–it’s homeschooling all the way…”

          Yes, that’s pretty much it. Thanks for getting that. At the same time, I guess I do understand why PT would take the tone she does, so, maybe best to just be an observer/reader instead of a commenter.

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      My point in brining up people who work in retail (aside from being kind of funny…ooh retail, how FOREIGN!) is because my husband and I and all of our friends are white collar professionals who decided do not work in retail. It was meant as a subtle comment on class. I should have said something like X percent of kids get free lunch or whatever…maybe. The point is, I like that my kid is in a mix with a bunch of different people. Preschool, which was private, was NOT this way. Mostly stay at home moms (because it was, after all, part time preschool) fairly well off and all white. It’s what I envision, at least around here, the homeschool community would be…oh…and also they’d be too religious for me. Not people I’d surround myself with. The person who commented about a lot being depended on where you live is absolutely right.

      • Jessica
        Jessica says:

        Hi Gretchen,

        I just wonder why you are here looking for reasons not to unschool? I understand your sentiments amount your area and income providing a sheltered existence, and therefor school will make things more diverse for your daughter….but really it’s about finding these things and not expecting them to be provided for you. That’s the point of unschooling. From what I gather you like her school because it’s ‘diverse’ for you in a way the preschooling families were not?

        Just because you would be unschooling doesn’t mean you have to be friends with the local homeschooling community pockets…it just seems you like the world to be set up for you instead of you creating your world. Which is fine, but the opposite of unschooling…

        I too thought I had to do x,y, and z just because they were already provided in my environment…

        • Gretchen
          Gretchen says:

          “it just seems you like the world to be set up for you instead of you creating your world.”

          these are the comments that kind of compel me to comment myself and write back… “creating my world”? how far do you want to take that? build your own house? make your own car? your own computer? maybe I should be my kid’s dentist and doctor while I am at it? a person chooses and uses the resources available to them (in this case, a very fine school) and doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel for everything in their life!

          • Jessica
            Jessica says:

            I’m sorry, Gretchen, but I really don’t understand how you misnterpreted my comment.

            I’m not sure if you are being sarcastic or if you really don’t understand a life-seeking point of view that is contradictory to your own.

            Based on your writing, you seem really judgemental of the people in your town, people you don’t understand, people on this board. I mean, if you want your kid to learn to embrace diversity you need to learn that yourself.

            Instead of embracing the differences and asking yourself how can I improve my outlook? What info can I provide that’s useful?’ You say ‘how can I twist this to irrelevancy, so I don’t have to think about it anymore’.

            It’s exhausting to read.

          • Gretchen
            Gretchen says:

            How am I down on the people in my town? I am saying what a great class there is at my kid’s school. I noted that her PRESCHOOL (church based, white people, wealthy…because these people self-segregate) was less diverse. That’s all I said. I really am happy and satisfied with the diversity as well as the academics at the PUBLIC SCHOOL in my “town”…

  12. Jayson
    Jayson says:

    Absolutely, this is is a documented fact. There is no racism in diverse public schools due to the kids teaching manners to each other.

    But kids don’t always spend their time at school educating each other on wholesome societal values, holding hands, working together as a team and singing Kumbaya. For some weeks, my son (5 at the time) came home from school saying these absolutely jaw-droppingly violent things that he thought was cool. It took us some time to isolate where he was learning these things down to a single student a year older who he was eating lunch with.

    One very direct conversation with the staff and permanent separation of the kids solved the problem.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m not buying that diverse schools squelch racism.

      I went to an all-white high school, and the town next to us had a school that was 50/50 white and black. But it ended up being rich white people and poor black people and the kids were separated by test scores. And everyone in the area knew that the white kids who went to the diverse school were racist and the white kids who had no contact with black kids mostly had no opinion of them.

      Penelope

      • Jayson
        Jayson says:

        My sarcasm tags weren’t working. I don’t buy it either. The comment was supposed to be attached to Gretchen’s post above. The commenting format on the site doesn’t make it so easy to see where one is posting.

  13. Kim
    Kim says:

    Well said, this is the point I’ve been trying to make for a while. Learning is way to complex to be “taught”. No amount of school can prepare you for the real conversations that go one outside the books. Too many kids are afraid to talk about racism and diversity because their textbook feeds their opinions, presuppositions and fears almost perpetuating racism.

  14. Amy K.
    Amy K. says:

    Penelope, your son sounds really sweet and really lonely. No neighbors, no classmates, no local homeschool friends. It sounds as if his main socializing takes place with kids who live in or near Chicago–not so easy to set up a playdate!

    I appreciate how forthcoming you are about this. I am a prospective homeschooler and the social element is what makes me the most nervous even though I get the “socializing is no problem” message ad infinitum on the internet. There will be no kids to play with during weekdays without getting in to the car and driving to some kind of planned event. That is what I dread.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is not a homeschooling problem. Really.

      It’s a problem of a kid who spends three hours a day practicing music and twenty hours a week driving to music lessons and seven hours a week in music lessons. It’s a weird life. He continues to choose it. He knows what he’s giving up. He’s been invited to be on a dance team, a soccer team, a gymnastics team, he said no to each of them because they interfered with music.

      I have to say that before I had a kid like this I was largely unaware of the sacrifices focused driven kids make at a young age. But now that I look around and notice those kids more I see that it’s pretty common for kids who are like my son.

      Other kids who homeschool would spend more time playing with friends.

      Penelope

      • Amy K.
        Amy K. says:

        Yes, 20 hours a week to/from music lessons does make for a weird life. You are in the country but not of the country. We all have trade offs in life and this is yours.

  15. Chris
    Chris says:

    Last night my very white son told me that when he was in third grade, he was really angry with me for not picking an African-American sperm donor because he wanted to be better at basketball. (His best friend at the time was African-American and really good at basketball.) My also-very-white daughter said she was really angry with me for the same thing when she was younger, because she wanted nicer skin and hair. (Again, African-American best friend at the time.) Racists? I don’t think so. Kids navigating the world and figuring things out… probably. And I guess I missed the boat on the fashion accessory of the season. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXjCXhP_Qqo

    • Gretchen
      Gretchen says:

      Yeah…I remember distinctly a conversation me and my little brother had growing up that we wish we were black. Black people were so cool! It’s kind of shameful now, to think about a lot of the B.S. many black people have to endure though, for us to reduce them to height, beauty or “coolness”…but, kids are innocent.

  16. Katerina
    Katerina says:

    Well, I guess I’ll never understand what is racist in the US, but I’m pretty much sure that these Asian kids will not be able to distinguish, for example, one Northern Russian from another or one Finnish guy from another (they are all white, by the way). The fact they have experience in differentiating certain white types living in their area does not make them experts in all races. I understand that it was not the point, but still.

  17. Cora Valentine
    Cora Valentine says:

    Oh, for the love of Rosa Parks.

    Try living under Jim Crow and having to rear your children and grandchildren not to look white people in the eye. How’s that for a microaggression?

    What Zehavi did was not racist, he should not have apologized – in fact, Mr. ThinSkin should have been the one to account for his rudeness – and my heart is having a hard time bleeding for kids who are privileged enough to participate in a weekend-long Suzuki cello festival.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      No. But I am more confident in my decision so now I can write about problems, misgivings, etc. I think nothing is perfect. I’m not. My kids aren’t and no education system is perfect. So I guess that’s how I”m hoping we’ll all talk about it.

      Still, I continue to feel that standards-based school is a colossal waste of time, and I can’t stand that people are in denial of that.

      Penelope

  18. redrock
    redrock says:

    Racism, sexism are defined (and should be defined) by the one on the receiving end. Maybe this kid had heard the remark “oh, but you look just like this other asian kid standing right beside you” when the other kid standing right beside him had no relation to him whatsoever, and maybe he does not even know the other kid. A lot of those type of remarks can grind anybody down, and then at some point you just don’t want to discuss it any more. The automatic assumption that a certain group of people who are visible distinct (black, white, asian, tall, short, green hair…) has certain strengths and weaknesses can get incredibly tiring if you do not fit that preconceived mold. And – most of the time a vast majority does not fit the mold. The truly toxic next step is then the assumption that those traits are better or worse then those of another group.

    The weaker partner of racism and sexism is “bias” – the tendency to often unconsciously assume other people are a certain way because they are female, male, brown …. like women want to stay at home with the kids – this is not a given – maybe the majority would like to, maybe the majority just wants to have a less stressful job, but it does not mean that any women has to first justify why they do not fit the mold. We all have our own set of biases, they are part of human nature – but it is possible to recognize when they have the potential to impact other peoples lives, e.g. writing letter of recommendations, mentoring colleagues….
    http://www.understandingprejudice.org/iat/

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      I understand and agree that how the offended hears it is paramount. But I can’t help but think that intent does still matter. Z went to a relatively homogeneous as a child with a Jewish first name and Hispanic last name. At 6, I rather imagine he fielded some questions regarding his heritage. I don’t know him, but he certainly sounds like the type that wouldn’t have been offended and maybe even delighted to chat about it. He is now 8 and I’m sorry, but you have to look at his experience and imagine what is tone of voice was likely to have been before deeming his comment racist.

      I still don’t understand how things are ever supposed to change and people are supposed to learn if a topic is taboo. As I have said, I tend to avoid any mention of anything that could be construed as offensive. This means that I end up limiting what I discuss with a person based on their race. Doesn’t that just end up fostering ignorance and impede cultural exchange?

      This such a hard topic, while I do understand why the boy might have been upset and how that can impact his outlook, I still don’t think Z did anything wrong.

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        oh no, I did not mean to say anything was done wrong – more like understanding why reaction sometime seem over the top and prevent discussion. The link about our won implicit biases goes to a test which illustrates quite well that we all have some kind of biases (which is not equal to racism, but a distant relative of it).

        • MBL
          MBL says:

          Oh. Whew! Thanks for clarifying.

          I remember being stunned when I first heard about the tests that indicated that merely answering questions about gender or race before taking a test negatively impacted performance. This was across areas including females and math ability, race and general knowledge and race and athletic performance.

  19. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    There’s nothing racist about this story and here’s why:
    I’ve met people, Caucasian, who aren’t related, and look alike. Shocking, I know. I’ve asked, “Are you sisters?” And guess what? No one got offended.

    I do acknowledge there’s heightened sensitivity because of social injustice, and that’s what kids need to know about, the social injustice in the world, and how to be a smart educated person about the hardships people face because of racism. That will shape his behavior more than telling him that what he said is racist.

  20. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    PT, this was a great time to have that conversation with Z which could probably lead to a talk about anti-semitism; something he probably doesn’t know about yet?? My kids have native american in them from my husband, and my daughter says some cringe worthy things about her almond shaped eyes; I don’t make a big deal out of it and give her a better way to make her statements. She happily obliges to make the change; she’s a sweetie pie. I think the point is that Z probably got a better lesson about this, more personal explanations, than he could in a school/teacher environment.

    How awesome that cello fair must have been!! I bet he loved it. Lots of fun activities! So is he not loving being on the farm anymore?

  21. Susan Dancer
    Susan Dancer says:

    Your kid learned that from another kid…kind of like just what happens in school! Like…DAILY. That cracks me up that you think he had some sort of unique experience that only homeschooling can provide him.

      • Commenter
        Commenter says:

        Whatever it was, it was the same thing he’d be learning DAILY if he were in school…

        My guess is “That some kids will hate him as soon as he opens his mouth and never tell him why.”

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is why it’s different. Because school is structured so that kids don’t talk to each other. Kids can’t talk while the teacher is talking. Kids don’t have time to socialize when lunch times are cut in order to increase test scores. Kids don’t talk in between classes because they have to get to their next class. School is orderly and letting kids talk to each other whenever they want to is disorderly.

      I wrote about Danah Boyd’s new book – It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, and her research shows that kids are so frequently prohibited from talking to each other in school, and then they go to their respective homes, so they are talking online and texting because they never have a chance to talk in person at school.

      Penelope

      • Susan
        Susan says:

        Oh. Maybe perhaps that is just your kids school they attended once upon a time? My daughter has been “talking” to other kids in between classes, at her lunch time (which hasn’t been cut for testing), at recess (which hasn’t been cut for testing) , PE and in between classes and while she works in teams and group projects. Pretty sure your child can’t talk to other kids *during* playing time at the Cello fest. Same thing at school. My daughter can’t talk to others while her orchestra instructor is is actively teaching either. These kinds of interactions…where your child is so desperately attempting to engage other children and yet gets it so wrong…are going to happen more and more.

      • marta
        marta says:

        Funny your description of school.

        Are schools really like that in the US or are you just twisting reality for the sake of your argument?

        Around here you have recess (15/20 minutes) for every 45 or 90 minutes of class, lunch recess for 60 minutes MINIMUM. Also, middle and high school only run from 8.15 am til 1.15 pm 2/3 days a week, and from 8.15 am til 3 or 4 pm 2/3 days a week.

        Kids get a lot of unsctructured time during the school day and specially after school. I know countries in Europe where the school day is even shorter…

        So, maybe US schools are going the Singapore/Chinese/Japanese/Korean way while Europe happily lags behind?

        Let it be so. It’s fine like this.

        Marta in Lisbon, Portugal

        • MBL
          MBL says:

          Here is the schedule for the school 2 blocks from my house. Kids dash through lunch to get more time for recess. For most of the school year part of their time involves dealing with winter gear. Ours is a “late start school.” Some schools are more in the 7-2 range.

          There are before and after school programs that parents can pay for. They offer lots of play time. Of course, that is at the expense of parent time. There are also classes (ceramics/drama/science) kids can take at the adjacent parks and rec center right after school. I enroll my daughter over there for those and she loves them.

          Arrival between 9:00-9:10
          9:00-9:30 Morning work (journal writing) + announcements
          9:30-10:45 Math
          10:45-11:20 Word study (Spelling)
          11:20-12:15 Specialist *
          12:25-12:55 Lunch/Recess
          1:00-1:20 Math practice
          1:20-2:30 Reader’s Workshop
          2:30-3:30 Science/Social Studies
          3:40 dismissal

          * Specialists schedule
          Monday- Art
          Tuesday- Media
          Wednesday- Music
          Thursday- PE
          Friday- PE

          Twice a year PE entails walking or biking to the lake for fishing or ice fishing. A lot of parents join in on those days.

        • Commenter
          Commenter says:

          Marta,

          Schools are really like that across the US. As in MBL’s local school, the school my son went to for a year and a half (before we gave up) was six hours long and had 1/2 hour a day for combined lunch and recess.

          If the children hadn’t finished their lunch, they weren’t allowed to go to recess. My son eats a lot and very slowly. He began to beg me to pack only a snack for his lunch, because he’d rather be hungry all day than get beat up again by the other boys because he was delaying their recess. He came home ravenous every day.

          School ran here from 8:30 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon, six hours, starting in Kindergarten (age 5). Add 45 minutes on each side for the bus. That’s how long my son went on little food with no break.

          There was no “unstructured time” during the school day. There were no other break or recess or gym periods outside this 1/2 hour, except for one day a week when they had the 45 minutes of PE as required. The guideline in my city is 150 minutes per week of in-school physical activity weekly. Beat the numbers with a pencil and that’s what they gave.

          Some kids came to school as early as seven, some stayed late in “aftercare” until six. The school served free breakfast to all students who came early because most of them hadn’t had anything to eat before they got to school. In my city, 78% of schoolchildren are so poor they get free meals at school. The school district in my city serves meals to the students all summer long because otherwise some of them wouldn’t be able to eat.

          “So, maybe US schools are going the Singapore/Chinese/Japanese/Korean way while Europe happily lags behind?”

          I don’t think the systems can be compared in a linear fashion like that. America has problems unique to developed nations (child poverty rate similar to Romania), and our schools are one of the only places we try to address these problems. Unfortunately, our school system is also currently being taken over by corporations wishing to develop and exploit a larger market in educational testing. The result is unlikely to be similar to or as good as the system in either Europe or Asia.

          Here’s an interesting video showing what teacher professional development is like here:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAy3vJn4pbs

          This is a consultant training teachers in Chicago to teach a class to students to help improve their test scores. It is indicative of where public education is going in our country. Just add starving children.

          • Jessica
            Jessica says:

            Yup!

            It’s truly amazing, the American school schedule compared to other countries.

            What I noticed was the ‘control’ factor. My husband is English and can’t believe there are bells to ring kids from lunch to recess.

            There are lots of differences. Kids can’t just up and go to the bathroom in the US, through high school. So at 18, kids are asking to go to the restroom.
            Another big difference is the emphasis on public humiliation- behavior ‘grading’ systems such as color cards coordinated with how well you ‘are’ during the day.

            In America, the classroom is set up to control control control and limit.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      LOL

      I know, I know. It is just that I envision people new to this blog seeing some of the comments and nodding along without an actual homeschooling parent addressing it.

      That and the fact that, apparently, I’m a stubborn, optimistic, masochist.

  22. Shanna
    Shanna says:

    So the whole time I was in high school I had two friends with very similar hairstyles, body type and one had the same color of eyes as me. We were constantly asked if we were sisters. How should I have navigated this situation? If the person asking was a different ethnicity I should have been rude? If the person shared our ethnicity I should have thought nothing of it? One friend was Hispanic while I am Northern European, should we have cross examined this person to check which of us should be insulted when we were thought to be sisters? If the asker was half Hispanic and half European I guess we would have been in luck, we could each be half offended! It is possible a person of a third completely different race could have asked all three of us if we were sisters (it happened a lot), I am losing the math on the fractions and degrees of offense we should have individually felt.

    I just think a fairly large majority of people are very unobservant about facial features. They see long curly brown hair, blue eyes and think “sisters”. My friends and I had very different, very striking facial features, no mush faces. Not in any way alike. At. All. I always wondered how people could possibly even think we’re related in any way. I noticed they did the same to my sister and her friend (European/Guatemalan, but same hair/eye) or any two blond girls. People are just lazy and really don’t pay attention.

    I have always noticed the distinctiveness of facial features and expressions despite hair and skin color. I often see actors or people who are facial feature twins of other actors or friends of a different race. Like they obviously share a common ancestor and very strong genes, they even make similar expressions and gestures.

    My actual sister looks nothing like me at all. People exclaim when we tell them we are sisters. Perhaps I am missing out on an opportunity to be offended? If two Asian children are siblings and tell someone and the (other race) person says “oh, you don’t look alike at all”, because they don’t, should they call that person a racist? What if someone comments that a biracial child looks more like one parent and not like the other? Do we parse out the race of the commenter to determine their public shaming? People comment all the time that some of my kids look more like me or my husband, if we were a mixed race couple would we have to start ostracizing family members and friends and making comments about their stupidity and ignorance?

    Also, logically speaking, someone made a comment about get used to lots of Asians in cello class (raaaaaaaaaaaacist!) your son obviously didn’t think ALL the Asian kids were related, something else led him to wonder if they were friends? Brothers? Neighbors? It sounds like the child who called your son racist has a convenient shortcut, he doesn’t have to have any thought processes, just call people racist for no reason as if he can read their mind.

  23. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    To Zehavi, to keep out of much trouble, we’d be better off remembering: Do not talk about others’ appearance. Kids do it a lot before they learn and many adults never learn, but it’s best in polite society and forces conversation to something besides appearance.

    I don’t think an apology is necessary. Some things aren’t improved by apologies.

    To Penelope, I love that the kids go to therapy! It keeps everyone informed and armed with survival tools. I love it.

  24. Jones
    Jones says:

    There are lots of reasons not to like someone. Race is the least troublesome. Taking offense is what’s draining. What’s damaging isn’t the remark being made, but how we choose to internalize it.

  25. Paxton
    Paxton says:

    I used to work at a business that was owned by a Vietnamese family. One of the owners told me that when she first arrived in the US she had a hard time telling white people apart.

  26. Zehavi
    Zehavi says:

    Hey this is Zehavi i want to say Thanks to you all for your comments they make me feel better about what i said

  27. anon
    anon says:

    I know its a little late to make a comment but I wanted to add something to this conversation. I’m AA and I’m homeschooling my teens (they were previously in public school). I also recently moved to the Bay Area.
    I don’t thinkZ’s comment was racist nor do I believe the other child’s reaction was rude. Its not his responsibility to explain why he thought it was racist. It obviously hurt him in some way. I kind of admire him for being assertive enough to respond and walk away. In most cases when people say racist or insensitive things, minorities just take it in for fear of making the other person upset. It may be time to expose Z to more nonwhite people, in other settings. Maybe spend more free time in Chicago or take a class in Chicago (something other than music), where there will be Asian, black and Latino children.
    One interesting thing about home schooling in the bay area. So far I don’t find it to be very “diverse”. I’ve attended park days, joined in on an open call field trip and attended a parent meeting. At all of these events, I’ve only seen white mothers with their kids. Every one is very nice but it left me wondering about whether there are any Latino, Asian or AA’s who homeschool their kids. My guess is that they don’t participate in these activities as frequently as the other mothers. I’m contrasting this experience with my public school experiences. My kids met and played with kids from different races and socio-economic backgrounds. I love homeschooling for many reasons but the one thing that bothers me about h.s that it is very easy to isolate/manipulate your kids into socializing with only one group. I believe public school (while not perfect) allows room for cross cultural socialising in a way that homeschool doesn’t.

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